As part of our Ensemble-in-Residence position at the University’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, we spend about a month each summer living in South Bend, developing the projects that we’ll be bringing to the DeBartolo stage during the come year, meeting with faculty and students, and generally getting our act together.
This year we decided to bring in some guest artists to help further our continued growth as musicians. During our first week at Notre Dame, we had the privilege of working with Musekiwa Chingodza, a world-renowned Mbira player from Zimbabwe. Musekiwa was in the states for about 6 months, busily traveling around the country performing and teaching, and we managed to get him to South Bend for a few days to work with us on Shona music.
Here’s Musekiwa teaching us “Chamutengure,” one of his signature songs.
And doesn’t that T-shirt look great on him?
It was a really memorable and educational experience for all 4 of us. Thanks to the Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center for coordinating Musekiwa’s visit. We hope to work with him again soon!
The following week we had percussion guru Russell Hartenberger out to South Bend to listen to us play, give us feedback, and generally share his experiences from 40+ years playing in Steve Reich & Musicians and the percussion ensemble Nexus, trailblazers in our field. Russ was deeply insightful and great to work with.
Here he is helping us get the perfect bass drum sound for Reich’s Sextet:
It was excellent to take the time for professional and artistic development with these two great guys. It’s something we all agreed we need to make sure we do more often.
The biggest project of our Notre Dame time was working on our new project with Glenn Kotche, Wild Sound. This project has been years in the making, and has grown into the most elaborate production we’ve ever been a part of. This piece involves pre-made video and audio tracks that accompany the live performance, live video, amplification through a variety of means, and zero ordinary instruments. Every sound comes from a found object, or an instrument we create on stage during the piece, or the sounds of creating those instruments.
We’re incredibly fortunate to have a team of interns at Notre Dame, students with both engineering and music backgrounds, who helped develop some of the more advanced technology that will be used in this piece. Here’s Glenn checking out some of what they’ve been working on with Arduino technology:
And here Glenn’s working with Peter on his “fishing-line violin” part:
And one of the interns, Jonathan, showing us what he can do with an X-Box Kinect:
This piece is going to be really amazing! You can see the premiere October 3 at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, with subsequent performances in St Paul (MN), New York and Chicago. You can also get a sneak peak at a little bit of the piece, and the process behind it, at our “Inside the Composer’s Studio” event with Glenn!
Our gracious host for our 4 weeks in South Bend was a young man named David Matthews. I’ve never met someone who was so passionate about the ongoing revitalization of downtown South Bend. He showed us a whole new side of the city, and we’ve got a few new places on our list to visit during our future time at Notre Dame.
Finally, our summer time in South Bend is our time to cook giant meals for the ensemble. Here are a couple of highlights:
Migas a la Skidmore
Kung Pao Chicken a la Dillon
Chicken and Dumplin’s a la Skidmore
Cumin Lamb a la Dillon
…and the final feast! Featuring lemon baked chicken and potatoes from our new South Bend buddy Velvet, Chinese Broccoli a la Dillon, and Gyoza a la Min Park.